I imagine most Jesus Creed readers have attended a major motion picture filmed in 3D. With those amazing 3D glasses you sense that you are not merely seeing a film, you are living in it. I remember my first 3D film when I was eight years old (1955). With technology nowhere near as sophisticated as today, when the jungle natives threw their spears (a Tarzan movie) toward the camera, my mother said I yelled and ducked behind the seats. The spears were flying through the theater right at me. Back then you had paper 3D glasses with a red lens and blue lens.
Did you ever take the current high tech 3D glasses off while the film was showing? With some buddies I was watching an IMAX 3D film about NASCAR races. The sights, the sounds, the action consumed you. I took the glasses off and almost fell over from dizziness. The giant screen seem weirdly distorted. The glasses serve an important part in the 3D experience.
The gospel of the New Testament was filmed in 3D if I may continue the analogy. “The Word became flesh and lived among us.” It was not two dimensional “good news.” The same Apostle John wrote that he touched Jesus, heard him, saw him. When Jesus broke bread he handed some to John. 3D.
Today, the evangelical Left sees Jesus though the blue lens. The evangelical Right sees Jesus through the red lens. Not seeing Jesus in 3D has created one the most dizzying, even appalling election campaigns in USAmerican history. To this day I am stunned by the uncivil discourse between the two “Christian” sides; talk often laced with profanity.
If ever the evangelical church has sold its birthright (the Gospel) for a mess of political porridge, it is now. The Left Jesus-group (elitist) wants to hold the Right Jesus-group (populist) accountable. The Right does the same to the Left. Stringent demands for political repentance are yelled across the red-blue divide with seemingly no sense whatsoever of the blatant sins created inherent in the divide itself. And the popular cop-out used by both sides— “Well, I’m just doing my civic duty as a U. S. citizen”—is pishposh (to use a McKnightism, who got it from Mencken). The Gospel doesn’t have a Democratic clause or Republican clause that excuses the ugliest of human behaviors for Christians. The more deplorable the candidates are (and I believe both are deeply flawed) is no excuse for Christians to act like jerks.
It is pathetic and beneath the Gospel of the Kingdom of God for Jesus to be recruited by either side. As if that were even possible! Last time I checked my New Testament, I saw Jesus in still King with all authority in heaven and earth. He is not Left (blue) and he is not Right (red). He is the color of pristine, searing justice, and if there was ever a time that the deplorable, unjust state of the evangelical church has become the target of the judgement of Jesus Christ, it is now.
The lost truth is this: Jesus Christ will judge his church. The Left and the Right thinks, “Well, it certainly won’t be us.” When the church acts just like the world, we are in jeopardy. This political season has pulled the hypocritical mask off both sides revealing mean-spirited, foul-language driven, power-seeking factions who think fleeting politics are some sort of safe foundation. Idolatry to the core.
“When we are judged by the Lord, we are being disciplined so that we will not be condemned with the world” (1 Cor 11:32 emphasis added).
My hope is that the church in the USA will rediscover the Gospel of Jesus Christ in IMAX 3D. To reimagine the realm we live in under the phenomenal King. Let his Way temper our spirits, frame our speech, and direct our actions. Only the 3D Gospel of the New Testament will unite the church and then energize the church to show this broken world “the new way of being human.”